Continuing south on Harold Street, we come to the block that for nearly 90 years served as a location for up to three schools. In 1897, there was one school in Slocan on Arthur Street for grades 1 and 2 and one school in Brandon where grades 3 and 4 went. By 1899, a new school was built on Hume Street with a room for younger children (grade 1-4) on the lower floor and a room in second story for the older children (grades 5 to 8). There were two staircases on either side of the building – one on the left for girls and one on the right for boys. This building had no fire escape from the second floor and was heated by a wood stove. Boys and girls each had their own outhouses and this design would continue even with the new school.
By 1933, it was time to have a new building and the Slocan Herald reported that a two-room elementary school measuring 24 by 60 feet was built for $3,000. It was of the latest design with ample window space and three black boards in each room. This building was Slocan’s elementary school until 1987.
The building sat vacant for about a decade before being revived as the Village’s library, gym and Wellness Centre. The library is run completely by volunteers, the gym is accessible to all members at their convenience and the Wellness Centre can be booked by any health care provider through the Village office. The new seniors housing complex behind the Wellness Centre is in a good location to take advantage of all that the Wellness Centre offers.
Members of Commonwealth countries all over the world were sent English Oak seedlings from the royal forest at Windsor Great Park to act as a lasting commemoration of the Coronation of King George VI. Slocan’s Coronation Oak is designated a significant tree and today provides a wonderful shaded area to sit on a hot summer’s day. The Slocan City’s Women’s Institute asked long time mayor Peter Swan to plant the tree on May 12, 1937 in front of what was the new elementary school. The following Valley Voice article of May 17, 2001 gives us the story:
WI rededicates tree
Slocan – In 1937, the Women’s Institute in Slocan planted an oak seedling at the old elementary school on Harold St. to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.
On May 12, the WI rededicated the tree in honour of its own 82 years in Slocan and the 100 years since the village was incorporated (as a city). A plaque now commemorates the occasion and on the August long weekend a time capsule will be placed nearby, to be opened in 2083 by future WI members and residents of the village.
All WIs in the province were offered an oak seedling in 1937 by the Minister of Agriculture. Several coronation oaks still thrive in BC; the Slocan tree was protected by a 1997 council resolution naming it a ‘significant’ tree because of its heritage value.
The Women’s Institute was founded in 1897 by 100 rural women in Stoney Creek, Ont … The Slocan branch was started in 1929 by Mrs. Popoff, who was also mayor. It was called the Slocan City WI, as there were other branches in the valley, but by the 1980s the others had died out, so it became the Slocan Valley WI.
And in the book “100 Years of BC Women’s Institutes 1909-2009”, p. 295-26 adds a little bit more information:
In 2001 [the Slocan Valley WI] rededicated an oak tree which had been planted May 12, 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI. The Village of Slocan declared it a ‘Significant Tree’ and the WI placed a commemorative plaque and time capsule at its foot. Seedlings grown from the acorns of this oak have been shared with other WI members in the Kootenay and South Vancouver Island districts.
After the World War 1, Cenotaphs were constructed throughout the area and indeed throughout the country. Their purpose was to honour those who had made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields. Slocan erected a cenotaph at the western end of Delaney Ave (closing the street for that block) for the two local boys, James Armstrong and Thomas Holt, who perished. At that time, Main Street near the waterfront was the main business area and a very busy thoroughfare. As things changed in the community, businesses shifted to Harold Street and Main Street became a residential area. The cenotaph was then located between two houses and was no longer viewed as a prominent feature in the community. The only time it was recognized was during Remembrance Day ceremonies. Every year, the Slocan Valley branch of the Royal Canadian Legion holds a service for those fallen soldiers.
The Slocan Valley Legion then spearheaded an initiative to have the cenotaph moved to this location. After much consultation and planning, in 2015, the cenotaph moved to this location. Landscaping plans are underway and future plans may include a Veterans Wall.
Across the street you will see one of the two surviving churches in Slocan, St Mary’s Church. This church was built in 1923 although the lots were initially purchased in 1902. After non-payment of taxes the lots reverted back to the City until Father A. L. McIntyre decided to build a church here. He paid the back taxes owing, and contacted W.H. Brandon who agreed to let him have the community hall in Brandon. In 1923, Father McIntyre moved the building to it’s present location and using wood from another building in Brandon, constructed an addition to serve as living quarters. He named the chapel St Mary’s in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Aside from this church, there were several other denominations through the years – Knox United, Presbyterian (known as Peter’s Church), Anglican and Baptist.
Continuing south on Harold Street, you will see the Slocan Motel on the right. This was once the location of the Greenlight Service Station and in a building that was on the corner next to it was the Green Light Cafe. This was also the Greyhound depot. When the owner of the cafe became the Post Mistress in the 1960s, she added post office services!
The service station eventually gave way to the motel, and when the building next to it burned down it wasn’t rebuilt. Opposite the motel is our current Post Office which had its official opening on Sept 11, 1975.